50 Years After Integration, Ole Miss Grapples With History

Ann McClure's picture

There still may be a few bullet holes in the stately white columns of the Lyceum, the Greek Revival building here that symbolizes the University of Mississippi, but most were unintentionally plastered over during a renovation years ago.

So a new historical marker now serves as the physical reminder of the night of Sept. 30, 1962, when hundreds of federal marshals and thousands of Army and National Guard troops met a violent mob of segregationists from all over the South and the campus became a battleground. Two people were killed, hundreds were wounded and the vicious realities of a racist society were broadcast around the world.

The following morning, James Meredith enrolled in classes, and Ole Miss was racially integrated.

In recent weeks, the university has been commemorating that tumultuous period with a program called “Opening the Closed Society.” The schedule has included lectures by prominent figures like Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the singer and activist Harry Belafonte, movie screenings, panel discussions and a “walk of reconciliation and redemption.”

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